What We Do When We Judge

Dialectica 65 (3):345-367 (2011)
In this paper I argue on two fronts. First, I press for the view that judging is a type of mental action, as opposed to those who think that judging is involuntary and hence not an action. Second, I argue that judging is specifically a type of non-voluntary mental action. My account of the non-voluntary nature of the mental act of judging differs, however, from standard non-voluntarist views, according to which ‘non-voluntary’ just means regulated by epistemic reasons. In addition, judging is non-voluntary, I contend, because it is partially constituted by the exercise of a non-reason-governed skill. This skill, which I call ‘critical pop-out’, consists of an unreflective, often unconscious, ability to detect the kind of situations in which the reflective abilities that also partially constitute our acts of judging should be deployed. We are responsible for our judgments, I conclude, because in identifying such reflection-inviting situations, we reveal the kind of epistemic agents we are
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DOI 10.1111/j.1746-8361.2011.01272.x
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John McDowell (1994). Mind and World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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